Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jet Pens 101 - Art supplies shopping guide for parents

Suggested Japanese Art Supplies

   The wide range of writing and drawing tools available in the Japanese market has always impressed me for their variety, high quality, and constant innovation.  This vast selection might prove somewhat intimidating and confusing, so we'll go over some sketching and drawing tools that would make good starter choices for your kids or students.

Pentel Aquash Waterbrush good accessory for watersoluble graphite pencils, watercolor pencils and pan watercolor kits. This tool allows budding artists to color and create washes without the need of a water cup for rinsing the brushes clean.  Gently squeezing and wiping the waterbrush on a paper towel when switching colors is pretty mess-free and allows children to work with water media anywhere even during airplane travel (just make sure to empty the water from the barrels before going through TSA checkpoints)

Uni-ball Hi-Uni Wooden Pencil might quite possibly be the best premium wooden pencil in the World if you prefer a strong dark lead that glides smoothly on the paper.  Being left-handed I really appreciate its smudge resistance compared to similar graphite grades from other brands.  The pencils sharpen well and the lead tips glide smoothly and effortlessly on the paper surface without any scratchy impurities that might disrupt the creative flow.  A nice pencil extender paired with a box of a favorite pencil grade pencil would make a great gift for kids that can spend hours drawing.

Uni-ball Lead Holders and Refills - 2 mm – H through 3B - Pack of 6 when I do not want to deal with wooden pencil shavings disposal or if I just want to toss a drawing tool quickly in my pocket, my first choice would be a leadholder loaded with a F or 2B drawing lead.  The advantage of this traditional drafting tool is that the length of the barrel and average weight remain fairly constant for a reliable consistent feel each time you pick it up.  A Uni leadhoder, a box of 6 leads, and a 2 mm lead pointer would serve well kids that keep their sketching kits organized in pencil cases and enjoy specialized drawing tools.

Pentel Graph1000 for Pro Drafting Pencil - 0.5 mm if your kid prefers to write and draw with a mechanical pencil, the Graph 1000 would make a pretty good gift since it is quite comfortable, sturdy, and light weight for extended work sessions.  Its 3-jaws clutch hold the lead quite securely and accurately relay your hand movements while sketching and freehand drawing.  With its longer drafting sleeve, it can work well with straight edge rulers and drawing templates.

Zebra Disposable Brush Pens - Super Fine through Medium good value choice for drawing and inking with a line that varies in thickness as you adjust your drawing hand pressure.  They nicely expand the expressive range of a set of Sakura Pigma Sensei pens. Their ink is waterproof, so kids can color their sketches with Crayola markers or other water-based media without smudging them.

Uni-ball Boxy Eraser – Black a fine compact choice for an eraser that can fit in the tight spaces of a crowded pencil case. Given its black color, it seems to remain tidy longer and does not show stray graphite smudges like white vinyl erasers do.

Pilot FoamEraser - Size 10 a long time favorite with a self-cleaning feature since its eraser debris neatly rolls into a strand instead of crumbling.  The downside is that they tend to wear down rather quickly.  My easy fix: I get two from the get go and enjoy their speedy performance.

Recent sponsorship lot.  Jet Pens has graciously been sponsoring me for the past few months with products to try and review.  I have been bringing many of these samples to class during the summer art camps and drawing workshops, so some students have had the chance to try them as well.  If you have any further questions about any of them please feel free to leave a comment, e-mail me, or simply contact Jet Pens directly.  I have been shopping with them for many years and really enjoy the convenience of being able to find so many of my favorite imported art supplies online quickly and easily.


Mary Sue said...

Would you recommend buying paint based markers for teenagers?

My kid just turned 15 and has been asking for paint markers for his birthday like the ones shown here:

They look a bit dangerous.

B2-kun said...

While I have no experience using paint markers, I would suspect that they must contain some volatile solvents in order to work on all the surfaces listed and would probably require adequate ventilation to be used safely. You might want to check this article on their intended uses and safety tips:

B2-kun said...

I would not recommend potentially toxic art materials without knowing the planned applications or level of maturity of the intended user. Checking the MSDS at Blick's, it is clearly stated that paint markers are not rated safe for children. If you decide to try them, make sure to read its Material Safety Data Sheet and follow all safety precautions. Better yet, consider the actual creative goal and evaluate non-toxic alternative materials.